The Tennessee Titans enter the final game of the season with one simple objective. Win and they are in the playoffs. Lose and their fate rests in the hands of those around them. For the Titans, not only do they have to win, but they have to beat the new AFC South bullies: the Jacksonville Jaguars. In the first matchup this season, the Jaguars were hanging with the Titans until the Titans amped up the physical play. At that point, the Titans overwhelmed the Jags and won the game. You better believe the Jaguars remember that loss and what happened on their home field and will be seeking revenge. With that in mind, the Titans have a tall task on their hands as the Jaguars are a different team than the team they faced early in the year. Jacksonville boasts the best cornerback duo in the NFL in Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye. The pass rush is there and so is the rushing offense. The Jags also have their memory to motivate them even when they really don’t even need the game. So will the Titans stand up or lay down? That is yet to be determined but these six points should be something they should succeed in if they win.
1) Physical Challenge
The Titans have not really ran the football like they wanted to and that has everything to do with their offensive line. This week, the line the defensive line they will be facing will be physical, nasty and come after them. The offensive line for Tennessee must revert back to the line they were last season, where they ran people up out of there, creating holes for DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. If they are able to raise they physical level of play, then that creates even more things the Jaguars have to deal with. The Titans must answer the physical challenge.
2) Go Young
The Titans are probably the only team in the NFL that has their backup running back as their leading rusher. Derrick Henry has been pretty impressive and has been more assertive than DeMarco Murray running the football this season. And also, we must not forget that Henry finished the game last time these two teams played each other. If Murray struggles to get it going, then Titans head coach Mike Mularkey should pull the plug on Murray in favor of the guy that has shown the ability to make things happen. After all, they are playing for their playoff lives right now and feelings should be put aside for what is best for the team.
3) Look Before You Throw
Marcus Mariota has had a tough stretch to end the season. It seems like every game he throws an interception or two that makes you scratch your head as to why he threw and what was he looking at. In this game, he is facing the best pass defense in the NFL. If the Titans are going to win, Marcus has to be smart with the football. Forcing the football into double and triple-coverage is not the way to go. Trust what you see and throw to the open spaces. If he tries to get cute passing the football into tight windows all game, the Jaguars will make them pay and that payment could come in the form of a Pick-6.
1) Stuffing The Line
The Jaguars are a physical team on offense and that is led by their offensive line. All of the guys they have up front can be physical and can overwhelm you. The Titans have some guys that can do that too on the defensive side of the ball and one guy in particular that has to lead that physical charge is Jurrell Casey. The veteran defensive lineman can be a one-man wrecking crew up front and the Titans will need him along with others to stop that running game. If they are able to stop Leonard Fournette and crew running the football, then they can dictate a few more things instead of the offense dictating to them.
2) Mind Games Starring Dick LeBeau
Assuming the Titans are able to create some issues for Jacksonville running the football, that will allow for Dick LeBeau to have a little fun at Blake Bortles’ expense. Everyone knows the weakness of the Jags offense is the passing game. Bortles in obvious passing situations will be exciting, especially for LeBeau. The veteran defensive coordinator will then be able to bring people from all over the place to confuse Bortles. And just when Bortles thinks it’s over, the coverage will cross him up. LeBeau has to find the right timing to get those things done. If he does, then there’s danger for Jacksonville offense.
3) Make Your Breaks
The Titans have had plenty of chances to make teams pay and in their last game, they came through on that and scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery. In this game, it is critical that they force Bortles into mistakes and that they make them pay for the mistakes as well. The more the Titans are able to help their offense with field position and put points on the board, the easier it will be for them to help position the team to win.
The time is now for Tennessee and Week 17 is here. This needs to be the game they put forth their best effort. All the buzz coming into this season comes down to one game. Will they make it back to the playoffs and at least do one thing that was expected of them or will they flounder in big moments like in years past? We shall indeed see.
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